1) There's been a lot of talk in recent years about what makes a great teacher. Jaime Escalante, whose story was told in Stand and Deliver, is about as good a definition as there is...
Escalante has died at the age of 79. He lost a battle with cancer, but not before it bankrupted him.
All the odds were against Jaime Escalante making a difference in the lives of the kids he taught. But he did. Why aren't there more Jaime Escalantes?
2) Former state lawmaker Duke Powell writes a fascinating blog about his life as a paramedic in Hennepin County. He sees a side of the health care situation few of us do. This week, he's been writing about chronic inebriates:
I'm not claiming that every one of those 30,000 people are drunks and beyond help. But I will assert that a significant percentage of them are and it is costing a fortune. In this instance there were several thousands of dollars of medicines in that bag which will be simply thrown away - paid for with taxpayer money.
The cost of this particular program is rising at a rate of 18% a year. Simple math tells us that the cost will double every 4 years with that level of yearly increases - and it already is a $1 billion item in the state budget.
3) The United States is one of the few industrialized nations in which terrorists have not struck the rail or subway system. Why not? Fred Kaplan, writing on slate.com has one answer:
In other words, the United States isn't the sort of place where suicide bombings are likely to take place. It isn't occupied territory. And though terrorist acts have been committed here in protest of U.S. policies elsewhere (mainly in the Middle East, Iraq, or Afghanistan), few of these acts have been suicide bombings.
The 9/11 attacks were, of course, big exceptions. Yet as a result of those attacks, it is now much harder for groups of terrorists to board airplanes at all, much less to do so while carrying weapons of any sort. And in those instances when individual terrorists have tried to set off bombs (Richard Reid in his shoe, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear), airline attendants and passengers have been alert enough to snuff out their plans.
Which brings up the question: Is the "terrorist threat" on U.S. soil overblown?
4) Critics of the Cash for Clunkers program warned us that the government handout to people who could afford to buy new cars would come at the expense of people who couldn't. They were right, according to a story today from MPR's Tom Robertson. Or were they? The trade-ins had to be destroyed and now there's a shortage of used cars, Robertson reports. While a Minnesota auto dealer blames the program for a near doubling in the price of at least one model of a used car, a national expert says it has more to do with people holding onto their cars in a lousy economy.
5) Welcome home!
Gov. Tim Pawlenty blames the teachers' union for Minnesota's failure to win federal Race to the Top money. Union leaders blame the state's application process. Does the teachers' union play a positive role in Minnesota schools?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: One of the major claims made for health care reform was that it would bring costs down. But some say that there were lots of missed opportunities to address the root causes of our high health care bills.
Second hour: Sassy spinster Elizabeth Philpot befriends young working class Mary Anning over their love of fossils. In this historical fiction, the unlikely pair navigate the early 19th century sexism of England's scientific community as they try to gain ownership and respect for their archaeological finds.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change at Macalester College talks about the federal "Race to the Top" education program.
Second hour: Retiring North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, speaking in Moorhead last week about the way Congress works.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin. An exotic expense chit challenges RNC chair Michael Steele, and Sarah Palin and John McCain -- together again.
Second hour: Religious scholar Scott Korb, author of, "Life in Year One."
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Two years after a mysterious illness broke out among workers at the Quality Pork Processing plant in Austin, workers still struggle with the physical and mental effects. Some got workers compensation from the company, most have not. MPR's Elizabeth Baier looks at what's happened to two of the workers since the illness almost left them paralyzed, and examines the legal rights and resources undocumented workers have in situations like this.
News from "God's waiting room." National Public Radio looks at the manufactured "town centers" at Florida's retirement villages, created by specialists from Universal Studios.(3 Comments)
Gubernatorial candidate John Marty today selected Patricia Torres Ray as his running mate. The lieutenant governor's job in the state is the political equivalent of being in witness protection. Voters usually hear about them on the day they're picked by a candidate, on the day they're elected and on the day they're.... well.... let's just say if a governor doesn't go toes up in office -- or a lt. gov. candidates doesn't talk about ethanol -- that's the last you hear about them.
Here are recent Minnesota lieutenant governors. Put them in the order of their service. No peaking:
Joanell Dyrstad, Alec G. Olson, Mae Schunk, James B. Goetz, Carol Molnau, Karl Rolvaag, Rudy Perpich, Joanne Benson, Alexander Keith, Lou Wangberg, Marlene Johnson.
Extra credit: Match three lt. governor candidates with their 2006 gubernatorial hopefuls.(6 Comments)
Edith Lichtenstein Morgan picked a good time to return to Minnesota. The Massachusetts woman is in the state this week to talk about her experience escaping from the Nazis and emigrating to the United States, drawing parallels with today's immigrants. She's on her way to St. Cloud this afternoon, a city that -- for whatever reason -- is gaining a reputation for intolerance.
"I get concerned when there's talk about rounding up people and when there's talk about any kind of war... but I think a lot of the American public is concerned when the subject is immigration. We almost didn't get in because the country had very strict quotas, and the Jewish quota was filled when we tried to get," she told me today. "The public goes hysterical whenever anything happens and looks for some group to blame, and I think we're approaching another one of those hysterical periods."
Which group will it be? "It looks like it's going to be Muslims or Middle Eastern groups, Syrians and Egyptians and Pakistanis. Most Americans, I don't think, can tell the difference," she said.
The recent problems in St. Cloud are not limited to that city or Minnesota, she points out. "In Massachusetts we've had several recent cases of desecration of synagogues and I'm not always sure whether it's just a bunch of (kids) looking for attention or whether it's skinheads or something worse, although it doesn't get much worse than them," she said. "I'm concerned about the militias and what appears to be a growing violence that has been sort of generalized but is probably going to focus in the near future unless we can do something to stop it."
Mrs. Morgan's "something" is telling her story, to draw a parallel between history and current events.
"My father was a federal judge and Jewish, which was a double-whammy because he was also progressive," she said. "They fought the Nazis every way they could but by January 1933, they put my father under house arrest and when he wouldn't stay home, they imprisoned him. When my brother was born, they allowed him out for just a few days, but we took a train to the Black Forest, but got off on the Swiss border. But we couldn't stay there. We were resettled in Paris, lived there for three years before the Germans followed us there. We got mixed in with the retreating French army. Finally, the armistice was declared and a small slice of France was left free, but it was only a matter of time before they got us so we had to leave there. They got my grandmother, and they got my mother's sister; my grandmother died in a cattle car."
Her family eventually made it to the U.S., thanks to a Swiss family "who gave us their life savings," and American Quakers, who sent the Lichtensteins to the Scattergood Hostel near Iowa City. Her father found work at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Only recently has Edith Lichtenstein Morgan started telling her story. "I'm not sure why," she said. "I married a Midwest American and it didn't come up that much. I probably wasn't ready to deal with a lot of that stuff so I didn't talk about it that much."
Her tour through Minnesota this week is sponsored by the TRACES Center for History and Culture, which "gathers, preserves and presents stories of Midwesterners' encounters with Germans or Austrians between 1933 and 1948. Out of that legacy, it documents the effects of hatred and war, and explores alternatives to intolerance and armed conflict. Above all, it offers educational outreach."
Edith Lichtenstein Morgan will be a guest on MPR's Morning Edition on Friday.
· The reason for her visit. (Listen)
· Her path from Nazi Germany (Listen)
· Why she's telling her story. (Listen)